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Why we're angry at Facebook (and what it means for IOD11)
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  baforum iod11
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How did you greet the new and improved Facebook? If you took to Facebook to complain about Facebook and demanded the old Facebook come back, you certainly weren't alone. Last Tuesday's rollout drew what could be a record amount of complaints from the site's 750 million users.
Don't blame Mark Zuckerberg, though. Blame your ancestors instead.
Our brain is a "prediction machine"
According to Huffington Post blogger Michael Taft, the reasons for this response date back millions of years, when our cave-dwelling ancestors faced a daily fight to survive:
Life evolved to gather energy resources, and the purpose of our advanced brains is to predict availability of resources (e.g., benefits) and possible loss of energy resources (e.g., threats). If we think of the brain as a prediction machine (a reductive but useful model), it follows that the brain likes to be correct about its predictions and dislikes being incorrect. [...] Failing at prediction is actually perceived as a threat to the organism (however slightly or subconsciously), and so any surprises or unanticipated changes seem menacing.
In short: we depend on predictions to survive. Being right makes us happy. And we get awfully cranky when our predictions turn out wrong. The fact that so many people (myself included) expressed so much frustration illustrates just how deeply embedded Facebook has become in our daily lives. Facebook's front page is a window on our world. Overnight, many felt that window had been replaced with a cruel hall of mirrors.
This dynamic doesn't just apply to Facebook. Taft sees the same phenomenon in at play in the fear that often greets new ideas. It also helps explain why we derive so much pleasure from watching movies we know by heart:
Our brains are highly optimized to anticipate outcomes and feel satisfaction and joy when we are proven right. This is why we like to re-encounter favorite movies and books again and again over the years and derive pleasure from them each time.
Finding our "sweet spot"
Taft isn't recommending we rely entirely on predictable events, which would leave us incapable of responding to change of any kind. Instead, he points to a "sweet spot" of challenge and ability where we can operate at our peak powers. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to it as flow:
Csiksentmihalyi defines flow as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” He identifies a number of different elements involved in achieving flow:
The analytics-driven organization
Csikszentmihalyi is one of the pioneers of the scientific study of happiness. But to my ears this happy state of flow also sounds a lot like that of an analytics-driven organization - the kind you can build with the IBM solutions you're going to see down at Information On Demand next month in Las Vegas. In the hundreds upon hundreds of breakout sessions and EXPO demonstrations you'll see how you can add the capabilities to make your outcomes a little more predictable. You'll see how to enable your workforce to better manage the relentless pace of change. And you'll see how turning insight into action makes everyone that much happier.
Change may not be pleasant, but it's the only way we know of to move forward. On a smarter planet, smarter software can mitigate the pain and help you move forward as well. And besides, we've been through all of this before and come out the better for it. The question to you now is, are you ready to move forward as well?